Columbia County Museum Revs Up Inventory

A recent visitor to Bill’s Old Bike Barn jokingly suggested the place should be called “an unbelievable collection of nostalgic items, plus a whole lot of motorcycles.”

That’s because, although the museum does feature more than 100 vintage motorcycles from all over the world, that’s only a fraction of the facility’s unique inventory.  Owner Bill Morris said offering a diverse layout of items is key to attracting visitors.

“Sure, we’re going to have people come to see motorcycles, but not everyone’s going to say they want to see motorcycles,” said Morris. “So, we gotta have something for other people to see when they come here.”

From the ceiling of the two-story main display room, to the elevated walkways around it, and throughout the many shops and stops along the adjoining streets of “Billville,” there are countless wow factors: a room dedicated to the 1939 World’s Fair, A camera shop with over 600 cameras from all eras, a telephone room with antique and rare novelty units, a military display featuring military motorcycles and weapons, a classic beauty salon, a dentist office, a fire department and a police station…all in a climate controlled setting. It’s a dream come true for the 75-year-old custom cycle builder who ran out of display room in his nearby shop many years ago.

“Doing this is like a giant adrenaline rush that started 16 years ago,” said Morris, moving from room to room in the 50-thousand square feet building.

Among the many head-turners in the museum is a 1948 Rolls Royce pick up truck.

“As far as we know there are only seven of these that were built,” said Morris, pointing to the gleaming white vehicle.

And there’s a 1961 Moto-Guzzi dump truck built on a motorcycle frame.

“As far as we know there are only two of these in the U.S.,” added Morris, “including this one.”

Everywhere you look and walk in the place, there is  a piece of yesterday, with Morris mixing among the people, “connecting dots” for the visitors.

“I like to tell them all these stories, so they know exactly what they’re looking at and where it came from.” said Morris.

Among the visitors during my visit was a tourist couple from England and a family from New Cumberland.

And after a lifetime of building, fixing and collecting motorcycles and nostalgic memorabilia, Morris has no plans to stop.

“This just keeps going like it’s out of control,” he said with a wide grin, “But, it’s just so much fun.”     570-759-7030

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